By Brian Clarke
Everything you read about business and marketing these days revolves around the same ideas: use social media and engage your customers or you will be left in the Dark Age of business marketing.
While I do agree that not using social media sites will leave your business at a competitive disadvantage, I think there is a danger in assuming that if you just set up a Facebook page and Twitter account, your business will be successful. It’s about what these new tools allow you to do, and what they make easier and cheaper for you to do that is important.
That being said, you don’t need social media to be a social and engaging business. In other words, it not about the tools you’re using but how you’re using them.
To illustrate this point, I’d like to share the wonderful experience I had with Wine Station, a local Ottawa business in the south end of the city. Wine Station’s business model is simple: you go to make your own wine. They supply the ingredients, the equipment and most importantly, the knowledge and instructions, while the customer makes their wine.
But how is this social business?
If you read the advice about how to use social media for business, some common tips are: educate your customers about your products, allow your customers to interact and communicate with you, and provide them with a fun engaging experience. Wine Station did all three without me – the customer – ever going near a computer screen.
They educated me about the wine making process, and explained very clearly what was happening at each step. They provided an interactive experience, in which I worked with a Wine Station employee and truly felt like I was involved in making the product. And most importantly, it was fun. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable and made the experience great.
I’d recommend any wine lovers in Ottawa to check out Wine Station and make an order for your own wine. If you drink a lot, it is cheaper in the long run.
However, the moral of this story is that social media tools aren’t a saving grace for any business. It’s what you do with them that matters. Using Twitter doesn’t make a business a ‘social business’, but what is behind that Twitter account does: people. Having good knowledgeable employees who provide customers with good service and an engaging brand experience is what makes a business social.
Whether you use social media or not to achieve this is irrelevant.